English Language O-Level Exam - What's Required from Students?
The GCE O-Level examination of a student's English Language capabilities are rigorous and complicated. In order for a student to excel in this subject, the student, as well as the people in charge of supporting his studies, must first be aware of what are the requirements needed at each part of the examination.
Paper 1 Writing (70 marks; 35% of total grade)
Editing – In a given text of continuous prose of not more than 250 words, students identify and then edit grammatical errors by writing the corrections in the spaces provided. They will be trained to identify the patterns and major categories of questions set. They may also be tasked to set their own editing questions in order to understand the perspective of the examiners.
Situational Writing – Students write a text of 250–350 words based on a given situation which will involve viewing a visual text. They are required to write the text (e.g. an email, a letter, a report or a speech) to suit the purpose, audience and context. Sample essays and good works produced by peers will be shared from time to time.
Continuous Writing - Students choose one out of four topics to write a text of 350–500 words in continuous prose. The topics set may cover different types of texts, e.g. narrative or exposition. Sample essays and good works produced by peers will be shared from time to time.
Paper 2 Reading Comprehension (50 marks; 35% of total grade)
Visual Text – Students are required to answer a variety of questions testing comprehension, and on the use of visuals as well as the use of language for impact. They may also be tasked to set their own editing questions in order to understand the perspective of the examiners.
Text 2 Narrative – Students are to answer questions testing comprehension, vocabulary in context and the use of language for impact.
Text 3 Non-Narrative – Students are required to answer questions testing comprehension, vocabulary in context and the use of language for impact. They also required to write a summary of about 80 words (excluding the introductory words that will be provided).
Texts 2 and 3 together will be about 1200 words.
Paper 3 Listening (30 marks; 10% of total grade)
Students respond to a variety of listening tasks that will assess a range of listening skills. The audio texts, which will consist of a variety of types of texts, e.g. narrative, recount, exposition, and information report, may come with visuals where appropriate. A variety of question types, e.g. multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the blanks, true/false/not stated, and filling in a graphic organiser, may be set. Students also need to listen to an informational text and complete a simple note-taking task.
Paper 4 Oral Communication (30 marks; 20% of total grade)
Reading Aloud - Students read aloud a short text bearing in mind the purpose, audience and context. A short instruction will guide them on the context in which the given text is to be read aloud. The text may be a short narrative, news report, speech, or an announcement, or a mixture of types and forms. They are assessed on their ability to accurately pronounce and clearly articulate the words in the text, and read fluently and expressively, showing an awareness of purpose, audience and context.
Spoken Interaction – Students view a visual stimulus, which is thematically linked to the text in Reading Aloud, in order to engage in a discussion with the examiners.
Role-play and peer assessment will form part of the feedback process.
To ensure that the student does well in all four papers, it is imperative that the teaching methods focus on the following areas to achieve certain objectives.
The student must learn to:
• speak and write in internationally acceptable English clearly, effectively, relevantly and coherently;
• respond, in speech or writing, to a variety of written, spoken and visual texts to suit purpose, audience and context using appropriate register and tone;
• use varied sentence structures and a wide and appropriate vocabulary with clarity and precision;
• use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
• read aloud a given text with accurate pronunciation and clear articulation
• read aloud a given text fluently with appropriate variations in voice qualities, i.e. pace, volume, tone and stress.
The student has to:
• plan, organise and show development of ideas
• identify main ideas and details in written, spoken and visual texts
• synthesise, summarise and organise information
• show understanding of a variety of written, spoken and visual texts at the literal, inferential and evaluative levels
• show understanding of how use of language achieves purpose and impact
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